Ethan Hawke gives an inspiring talk on creativity and how it forces you know yourself, lets you empathize with others, and gives you room to be a happy fool.
In singing our song, in telling our story, in inviting you to say, “Hey, listen to me, and I’ll listen to you,” we’re starting a dialogue. And when you do that, this healing happens, and we come out of our corners, and we start to witness each other’s common humanity. We start to assert it. And when we do that, really good things happen.
If you want to help your community, if you want to help your family, if you want to help your friends, you have to express yourself. And to express yourself, you have to know yourself.
I recently came across this book on Audible called The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. I didn’t end up buying the book since I don’t want to send 7 hrs and 35 mins listening to a book about a 5-second strategy. The math just didn’t add up for me. 😆
But I saw there was a short TED talk on the 5 Second Rule plus an even shorter YouTube video on the topic.
The basic idea is that as you go through your day, you have things constantly popping into your head. These are fleeting things that you should do, would like to do, useful ideas, and so forth. Mel says you have 5 seconds to act on that idea or it’s gone, or at least you won’t do anything about it. And acting on those ideas is the difference between making the life you want and not. 🤯
I like that idea. But what can you actually do in 5 seconds? I mean, you’re probably driving or out for a jog or playing Wii. You can’t necessarily write down a note or call up your cousin right then and there and invite him to lunch. You can’t go adopt a dog in 5 seconds. And you sure as hell can’t write a book in 5 seconds.
Mel has other suggestions on how to handle this 5-second period, but I’ve been dumping things like this into the appropriately named Things app on my iPhone. It goes like this:
Hey Siri, using Things, remind me to invite my cousin to lunch
That’s it. Now it’s in your inbox. You can figure out the details later, but at least now you have a placeholder / reminder. My Things inbox has grown way too long to be useful in the past (way into the hundreds), but I eventually fought it down, gradually turning this list into projects or reference notes or calendar reminders. I’ve also turned more than 400 fleeting thoughts into a database of book ideas (thanks to Evernote).
The only way I keep my Things inbox under control is to clean out the inbox once a week on Sundays. Usually I have about 40 things for the week to act on, organize, file, or discard. It takes about an hour a week.
And by the way, both this very blog and this specific post came out of a 5-second thought. 🤓
Hey Siri, using Things, remind me to check out Mel Robbins and The 5 Second Rule
Writing a novel alone can be difficult, even for seasoned writers. NaNoWriMo helps you track your progress, set milestones, connect with other writers in a vast community, and participate in events that are designed to make sure you finish your novel
Basically it says that you need take good care of yourself before you can aspire to your “ultimate self-actualization”. I guess that’s super obvious, but still it makes for a cool idea and a good visual. 😆
(I’m not sure this is technically a “hierarchy”, but still it’s a good list.)
Cheat sheet: creative physical space, creative imaginative space, creative peers / community, creative fuel (filling the well), being active / taking care of your body, creative edge / challenge, faith and belief in yourself and your work, having your work responded to, certainty (confidence?), and time.
Here’s just one of the ten artist’s needs that I really liked: The need for your creative edge:
Solving problems, pushing boundaries, developing something new is at the heart of the creative process. Rather than despair about how difficult it is, embrace the challenge of your craft.
In a creative writing class I’m taking, our teacher pointed us to this great piece called “Shitty First Drafts”. It basically says what we all know but tend to forget: nobody ever just sits down and writes a great story on the first try.
This approach frees you up to have fun with it (another topic from the class).
The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later.
Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird
As a side note, this “shitty first draft” approach applies just as well to other creative endeavors such as making music or software. The key is to not actually ship the shitty first draft (although the occasional great album seems to be an exception to this rule).
Disclaimer: this blog consists entirely of shitty first drafts. 🤷🏻♂️
The way I look at this is, if I wake up at 3:00 am, this is a great chance to mediate (laying-down style) with no time pressure at all. All sleep-stress goes away, and it feels pretty luxurious. It’s best to have some basic meditation practice down first, of course. But nothing fancy is required.
Most of the time I fall back asleep. But if not, I’m still getting meaningful rest and feelin’ good!
The core idea here is basically focus on your craft.
Creating authentic work that feeds your soul is all you need to do. It will fulfill you into old age, long after the Internet celebrities of the moment have moved on to late night TV commercials.
This article asks great questions, like:
Why do I want more followers? To what end?
What happens if I get them?
What would I do if I didn’t have an audience?
Get comfortable with digital irrelevancy. Get off the social media treadmill and figure out what you really love doing. Then set about learning your craft.
Reminder to Self
In my own case, I have a measly 120 followers on my Instagram account. Yeah, sometimes I wish I had 500 or 800 followers. But how would that change my life? It wound’t. What if I could make a living on Instagram? Well damn, that would ruin it. The pressure of having to post interesting stuff on a regular basis would make it no fun at all.
I like Instagram because it’s a place to share photos with cool filters. And I like seeing other people’s cool photos. And occasionally connecting with people. And finding good places to eat and stuff to do.
As for this blog… my About page says that I have an intended audience of one (me). I find writing these posts useful because it makes me really read articles and focus on what they’re saying. And it makes me keep writing at least a little bit on a regular basis to help keep my brain engaged. I also like sharing good content that I come across on the interwebs
If I tried to make this a popular blog that makes me money, I would quickly drive myself insane. I have a day job for that. 😂
Much to my surprise, I have collected a few subscribers along the way. Hi, friends! Thanks for subscribing, and sorry for all the random posts!